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Hurdy Gurdy

Jenny Ackland

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Allen & Unwin
04 June 2024
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'Hurdy Gurdy is relevant to us all, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it on shortlists in the coming months--it's the most unique novel I've read all year.' Readings

She tells me to sit down, that she has something I need to hear and it's that they don't cut hair or set curls. Well, we do, she says, but not always. We help them with a problem. We make it go away.

In a near-future Australia, the world has changed. A small circus caravan travels the countryside performing for dwindling audiences. Matriarch Queenie works outside the law, helped by high-diver Win, nineteen and yearning for love. By night, they gather under the dark sky, joined by philosophical clown Valentina, and Girl, who they found at the side of the road. By day, they offer other services: hairdressing for women and a close shave for men. But while women come to them for help, men tend to disappear.

And in the distance, a reverend and his nun-like companion preach against alcohol, adultery and abortion. Two groups on an ideological collision course in a landscape altered by time and human error, while overhead a space mission has gone wrong.

Hurdy Gurdy sits alongside classics like The Handmaid's Tale, Station Eleven and The Natural Way of Things, and is a provocation, both compelling and haunting. It's a feminist revenge tale about the choices that women have to make, and it asks the big questions: Can beauty be found in times of great darkness? How do we go on?

'A ripping, sprawling family saga featuring an eccentric cast with an abundance of big secrets.' Stella Prize judges' comments on Little Gods

'A remarkable and exhilarating debut. At once joyous and haunting, and a moving meditation on love, honour and belonging, it is a story about the strength of women and what it means to be a good man.' Australian Arts Review on The Secret Son
Imprint:   Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   356g
ISBN:   9781761069796
ISBN 10:   1761069799
Pages:   336
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jenny Ackland is a writer from Melbourne. Her debut book was The Secret Son (2015), a novel about truth, history and what it means to be a good man. Her second novel Little Gods (2018) is about girlhood and the mess of family, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize in 2019.

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